11/20/2009

SOME SMALL COMFORT: MILLER'S ON THE CASE

You can watch CNN's coverage of the Ray Comfort-modified Origin giveaway going on this week on a video right here, featuring NCSE member Ken Miller doing what he does best, which is to say defending the science of evolution from the ignorami:


One of these days, maybe Kirk Cameron will actually experience some intellectual 'Growing Pains', but right now he's nothing more or less than the poster boy for faith-based ignorance:



Watch the opener of this video on Kirk and Ray's 'Way of the Master' YouTube channel. Kirk makes the following claims:

"Our kids can no longer pray in public."

"They (kids) can no longer freely open a Bible in school."

"The 10 Commandments are no longer allowed to be displayed in public places."

"The Gideons are no longer allowed to give away Bibles in schools."

All of these are false or misleading statements! Let's take the first two out for a test spin:

"Our kids can no longer pray in public."

"They (kids) can no longer freely open a Bible in school."

What? Kids can certainly pray in public, even in public schools. How could you keep them from doing it? They have more freedom to exercise their religious beliefs than either teachers or administrators do, in fact...which is the way it should be, given that the latter (including myself) are de facto agents of government. The state has no legal mandate to prevent students from praying silently in class, or reading their Bibles, or writing essays that touch on their beliefs, or publicly discussing their beliefs in an appropriate manner.

At the same time, the state must not endorse any particular student's exercise of their religious freedom, or allow anyone (teachers, administrators or students) to hijack the legitimate purpose of education to serve a sectarian agenda. Many Christians have a hard time understanding this, but if you give instructional time or extracurricular time on campus to present a student's beliefs without a clearly-stated and legitimate secular purpose, you are effectively privileging that student's beliefs in an educational setting. Not only does this risk alienating or offending others, not to mention the triggering of legal action, it also places a burden on that student which, in most cases, they would not seek on their own, and do not want.

How about this one:

"The 10 Commandments are no longer allowed to be displayed in public places."

Nuts. SOTUS has never issued a blanket ruling to that effect. Some government displays of the 10 Commandments have been ruled to have a legitimate purpose, and others have not. You can read about that here.

And, finally:


"The Gideons are no longer allowed to give away Bibles in schools."

This is deeply misleading, to the point of being disingenuous. It is true that giveaways during instructional time have been subject to legal challenges, as that practice constitutes a de facto endorsement of sectarian religion by agents of government. But the Circuit Court of Appeals in the most publicized of these cases (Lonney Roark v. South Iron R-1 School District) ruled that while said district could not give Bibles away during instructional time, that there would be nothing unconstitutional about preventing 'any printed material' approved the District Superintendent to be distributed to students on campus outside classroom time.

And, indeed, on my campus (and pretty much every high school campus in Fresno County), Campus Youth for Christ and Fellowship of Christian Athletes routinely hold meetings at lunch or after school, often giving away printed materials or showing faith-themed media on-campus. This is routine. If the Gideons wished to give away Bibles to students outside of class in Fresno County, they could certainly do so.

So, Kirk's claims are wildly inaccurate, sorry. As a Christian, as a parent, he can be expected to know a little something about this, so he's without excuse. The best we can say about this is that Kirk may not be deliberately lying, that he may be simply repeating 'facts' drummed into him by his fellow evangelicals.

But if I can't trust the statements of a Christian parent about the freedom of religious expression kids enjoy in the public schools---something he can be reasonably expected to know something about---why should I, or anyone trust anything he says about a scientific theory? The guy earned a high school diploma between takes on a sitcom. How much can he know about learning laboratory science in a public school setting, much less what should or shouldn't be taught? I'm sorry, but being pretty and personable (as aging child stars tend to be) does not qualify you to speak on science education.

3 comments:

CarlaCarlaCarlaCarla said...

Ridiculous when fools go around making statements like Cameron's. Even more ridiculous when others buy such nonsense.

Wagoner County District Court said...

Good read. Thanks for posting.

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